SYCAMORE – When Sycamore High School principal Tim Carlson asked Marine Lance Cpl. Derrick Wells to speak at the school’s Veterans Day program, “Freedom is Not Free,” Wells knew immediately that he wanted to talk about his friend Adam Devine.
“Last year at Christmas time he stepped on an improvised explosive device, on Dec. 28,” the 2007 Sycamore graduate said. “He lost both his legs and shrapnel went through his torso and his arms.”
Devine, who grew up in Dixon, is the same age as Wells. The two Marines bonded during boot camp and infantry training. Devine is slowly recovering at a military hospital in Maryland, Wells said, and is hoping to return to Dixon with his wife and daughter next month. Wells plans to visit his friend when he returns.
Wells and two other speakers addressed an auditorium full of students during the ninth annual Veterans Day program at the school on the Friday before Veterans Day weekend. The event is organized by Jerry Pelan of Sycamore, who served with the Marine Corps from 1959 to 1965.
“I think every time we do it, it gets a little better and sometimes bigger,” Pelan said.
Cody Happ of DeKalb, a student teacher at Sycamore High School, brought senior foreign exchange student Helena Groepper, 16, of Germany to the school’s cafeteria to view Veterans Day displays before the presentation in the auditorium.
“I thought it was important (for her) to see this aspect of it and to meet current vets and those from past times,” Happ said. Helena was not familiar with the American holiday of Veterans Day before last week.
“I heard about the Fourth of July but I did not know Veterans Day was big like this,” Helena said.